As we have talked about in class about the ownership of a painting/photo/piece of art, it’s seen again here in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. Basil will not exhibit Dorian’s portrait, as he says
“every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion. It is not he who is revealed by the painter; it is rather the painter who, on the coloured canvas reveals himself. The reason I will not exhibit this picture is that I am afraid that I have shown in it the secret of my own soul” (9).
So according to Basil, the subject is not the owner of the painting because the painter reveals himself through the subject – the subject is another means of communication, as the portrait itself is. Further on, Basil states that he has put his soul into the painting, and he can’t bear to exhibit it, because he doesn’t want to expose himself to the world. It’s safe to say that Basil sees himself in the painting, so in a sense it is his painting, but later on he explicitly states that the painting is Dorian’s. Ok, so who’s is it really? Dorian really doesn’t want it because it reminds him of his youth, even though he is still young, and for Basil, it’s his best work and he can’t be around it. Who really owns the portrait?! Seems like this question of ownership will always be asked and never really answered.